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Saudi Aramco CEO blasts climate campaigners' impatience to end oil use

London — The CEO of Saudi Aramco, Amin Nasser, on Tuesday blasted the impatience of climate change campaigners, saying the industry needed time to become cleaner and had to do its "job" of meeting global demand.

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Speaking at the IP Week conference in London, Nasser said Saudi Aramco, the world's largest corporate supplier of crude oil, was making "huge" investments in efficiency and tackling emissions, in collaboration with others. But he played down the rate of uptake of electric vehicles and said technologies such as CCS (carbon capture and storage), intended to mitigate climate change by storing CO2 underground, were not yet commercially viable and, though they would eventually "prevail," would need time to "become commercial."

Nasser said the industry faced a "crisis of perception" and urged his audience to "push back on exaggerated theories like peak oil demand," referring to the view that oil consumption could peak as soon as the next decade.

He also highlighted India, noting that 67% of rural areas in the world's second most populous nation still relied on firewood and that coal consumption in the country would increase, not decrease, by 2040.

"We need to do our job and our job is to make sure we make available the required adequate, reliable supply of energy to the rest of the world, otherwise the whole of the global economy will be impacted," Nasser said.

"Fewer and fewer stakeholders accept our logic," he said, adding that the industry had to change perceptions, particularly among a younger generation of "millennials."

"We understand, we realize we have a responsibility and we are making a lot of efforts to make sure our products are the cleanest, but all of these things will take a little bit of time," he said.

"There is a need today for us to supply the energy the world needs. There are different needs for different people and that's what we need to explain as an industry."

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Nasser went on to argue the need for investment particularly in conventional oil projects due to their long production timelines, in contrast with US shale, and highlighted Aramco's own investment in offshore production, intended to ensure Saudi Arabia's production capacity remains sustainable in the long term.

-- Nick Coleman, nick.coleman@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Alisdair Bowles, newsdesk@spglobal.com